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How to Care for Your Dental Equipment: A Handy Maintenance Checklist

June 29, 2021

Dental equipment maintenance safeguards your practice from costly repairs and downtimes. Most importantly, it protects patients during surgeries and ultimately upholds the quality of your service.

We created a checklist of the most important insights we gathered from Benco Dental’s seasoned equipment specialist Bob Zamrok from our most recent webinar. The list can guide your hygienists and assistants, who you often assign for your dental equipment’s upkeep.

With this checklist handy, your gatekeepers can take extraordinary care of equipment with filters. They will also understand the correlation between water quality and operational equipment. Ultimately, they will learn the importance of preventative maintenance in overall dental operations.

On average, about a quarter-million of dental practice investment goes to the procurement of water lines, vacuum valves, and other dental essentials. Understanding these preventative maintenance tips from Bob can help maximize your investments.

Maintenance Tips for Dental Equipment

Vacuum Accessories

Vacuum Traps

Keep the vacuum traps clean at all times by washing the vacuum lines with warm water and an enzymatic cleaner.

Vacuum Valves

  • Eliminate any debris from the rings inside the valves by lubricating the valves after cleaning.

Amalgam Separators

  • Keep the vacuum lines wet by running water through the vacuum line after every patient.
  • Change the clear container once the water level reaches the fill line.


  • Make sure that the air and water syringe are free of clog and leaks.
  • If the syringe is clogged:
  1. Take off the removable valve at the top.
  2. Remove the debris that’s clogging the valve.
  3. Add fresh lubricant to the valve, then put it back on.
  • If there’s water dripping out of the syringe:
  1. Pull the removable water valve out.
  2. Clean the inside of the valve.
  3. Add fresh lubricant to the valve, then put it back on.
  • If cleaning doesn’t work, you may need to replace the ring or the entire subassembly.
  • Check the tubing arms for cracks or leaks.
  • If leaking, pull the tubing out and cut the part with the leak. Then, stick the tube back in after.

Water Filters 

  • Check if the water is coming out smoothly from the scaler.
  • Replace the water filter if there is no water coming out of the scaler or if you see sediments starting to pile up.



  • Prevent waterborne contamination by ensuring that the water quality is within what the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends. The association says dental unit water used in nonsurgical procedures is ?500 CFU/mL.
  • Perform a shock treatment on your waterline and water bottles at least once a month (can be done more often depending on your area’s water quality). Use a disinfectant solution with nine parts of water to one part of chlorine. Let the solution sit for 10 minutes before flushing it out with clean water.
  • For daily maintenance, use a suitable dental waterline treatment product, such as tablets. Add one every time you fill the water bottle.
  • Do an iodine strip test once a year.
  • Flush the waterlines for 20 to 30 seconds between sessions with patients.
  • Drain the water bottle at the end of the week and when you haven’t used the dental unit for long periods.


Actual Dental Unit

  • Replace the air and water regulator filter at least once a year.
  • Replace the filter more often if you’re area has hard water or prone to contamination


Water Purification Systems

  • Sanitize the system at least once a year by injecting bleach into the port. Let the bleach sit for about 10 minutes before flushing it all out.
  • Follow the indicators on the water purification filter and manual. Most manufacturers put numbers on the filters that represent how often you need to replace the filter.
  • Check if any of the dispensers shows over one part per million of water because it is a sign that maintenance is needed.
  • Replace the basement filter at least once a year.



  • Drain the autoclave’s water reservoir once a week to avoid bacterial growth.
  • Run a cleaner specified by the manufacturer for the autoclave once a month.
  • Reverse the gasket once a month or every six months (depending on the manufacturer) to avoid steam leaks.
  • Replace the sterilizer filters at least once a year.


  • Always make sure that the handpieces are well-lubricated.
  • Change the aerosol filter at least once a year or the moment you start to see oil dripping from the tool.
  • Replace the oil collection system as needed.


2D and 3D Dental X-Rays

  • Inspect every piece of X-ray equipment for functionality at least once a year.
  • For 3D units, run a quality assurance test (QA) at least once a month or as often as required by your state inspector.
  • Calibrate all X-ray machines at least once a year or until the automatic prompt comes up.
  • Hang the aprons flat down when not in use to prevent cracks from forming.

Handheld X-Ray Machine 

  • Make sure that the batteries are working.
  • Check the filter’s disk for cracks and bents.


  • Disinfect upholsteries at least once a day using mild cleaning agents.

Important Notes

While the procedures listed above are primarily standard, it is highly important to refer to your equipment manufacturer’s manual. Also, state regulations vary, most notably on how often equipment is replaced or maintained. Please make sure to check directives in your location.



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